(Bloomberg Politics) — Montana’s Republican-led legislature voted to expand Medicaid this week, taking the state one step closer to providing health insurance to an estimated 46,000 low-income residents.
The vote happened after four hours of testimony from supporters of the bill—including hospitals—and testimony from Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) opponents organized by Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the Koch-backed conservative advocacy group, according to Kaiser Health News.
In a statement released after the vote, AFP’s Montana State Director Zach Lahn wrote:
“We are deeply disappointed in the legislature’s decision tonight to expand Medicaid. This decision stands directly against the voices of millions of Montanans who have made it clear that they do not want more Obamacare.”
The problem: Montana has a population of 1.023 million, according to the latest Census data.
Montana’s PPACA Medicaid expansion supporters have been quick to point this out, and have accused the group of dropping into the state to derail the expansion without having genuine ties. In recent weeks, the group has held town-hall meetings across the state. The Great Falls Tribune reported last month that Lahn organized the town halls in cities whose state representatives refused to promise to vote down the bill. Bullock—who has been meeting with Republicans in the legislature throughout the year to work on a deal—pointed out that a real “grassroots” organization would know that Montana is a very sparsely populated state.